Jewelry Designer Katey Brunini Shares Advice on Collecting

The SoCal-based artist talks connecting to gems, the power of earthly wonders, and more…

Nature’s enigmatic wonders have inspired Katey Brunini’s jewelry since she founded her brand K. Brunini Jewels in Solana Beach (just north of San Diego) in 1998. Now Brunini is celebrating nearly two decades of jewelry design with a new art tome called The Book of Gratitude, which includes a selection of the sketches she pens before handcrafting her exquisite designs. A broad range of natural subjects inspires Brunini’s work from serpents, twigs, and spider webs to the double helix of DNA. To create her designs, Brunini often pairs vibrant colored diamonds with sizeable opals, baroque pearls, and even fossilized insects.   

Here, Brunini talks gut instincts, gem collecting, and where she wants to go next. (kbrunini.com)


What kind of energy do you hope to feel when you first encounter a gem?

I merely hope to feel.  Some days I enjoy sleepy stones; other days I encounter screamers. It may sound otherworldly, but over the years I have found that if a stone is talked about, it generally sells shortly thereafter, as if it is listening. It is important to realize this cannot occur in a vacuum, it is about the reciprocal exchange of energy, and this is quite unpredictable…and remarkable.

So certain gems make you feel a certain way.

Gems resonate with the body in a combination of attractions. It is a mind and body dualism that dates back to the Stone Age. Metaphysically, certain gems do not equal certain feelings; it is more of a mind and matter exchange. When working with an expert in gems, the only explanation is an electromagnetic pull of one being to a connected stone, perhaps a unity of opposites occurs.

Is there a piece of jewelry you feel most connected to right now?

I love this Aztec collar necklace (from the Body Armor collection). It is so simple, yet complex at the same time. It’s made with sterling silver patina and has three bi-color tourmalines with a total weight of more than 143 carats.

How about a piece of jewelry you feel pulled to wear every day?

My gold Sardinian wedding bands.

And is there one universal stone that every person should have in his/her jewelry collection?

I believe everyone should have an array of stones, which resonate with different moods. Why limit oneself?

You work frequently with opals. What is it about this stone that continues to appeal to you?

Opal is a goddess stone, she is every color of the rainbow—sometimes all housed in one. I am most drawn to the Australian varieties—black opals [and] wood replacement opals—as much for the philosophy of the ancients as well as the beauty. The aboriginal Australians believe that opal holds the soul of their ancestors. I tend to agree.

How should these opals be worn?

I wear an opal ring from my grandmother. The gem should be set as the artist wishes and the stone whispers. Each opal speaks as to how it should be set.

Is there a material you are excited to work with in the coming years?

Anything from Myanmar, such as ruby, jade, amber.

A lot of your jewelry is rooted in nature. What are your favorite places to go to feel inspired?

Sacred spaces, like the steppes of Mongolia, are on my mind lately.

The stones and places you are drawn toward often transcend passing trends. What advice would you give someone who is building his/her jewelry collection?

I advise clients to choose gems and jewelry design with legacy in mind. We are the mere custodians of nature’s gifts. Be a friend to the earth, and select not for immediate gratification, but for longevity. Also, work with a professional who has many years of experience, education, and industry resources. Science, math, myth, technology, politics, finance, nature, art, and a spiritual X-factor all play into building an important collection.


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